I attended a youth conference last Thursday that focused on promoting entrepreneurship among young high school students at the OAME (Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs) conference center in downtown Portland. My involvement was through Turner and they had been sponsors and volunteers for the better part of a decade; my role at the conference was to be a business coach meaning that we helped facilitate and support the ideas of the students. The conference consisted of students splitting into groups of three with a business coach and then creating a business plan for a fictitious company that only had a start-up budget of $2,000. There was also a few speeches from local minority business leaders every hour or so with the main speaker being Sam Brooks who is a local entrepreneur and founded OAME. He made a quick first impression by asking who were the first three people to arrive to the event and proceeded to hand each one a $100 bill. Sam said that being early to any event is one of the reasons he has been so successful. Unfortunately some students didn’t listen because it was their second time attending the event but they still weren’t first; if that was me, I would be camping outside! The man is a true entrepreneur saying he started his first business when he was only 10 years old collecting old vegetables from farmers and then selling them at the local market. He gave five valuable business lessons to the students to how they can be successful in this world.
1. How to grow and manage your business
He emphasized that if you are going to see your business become successful then you need to know all the aspects about it; from the financials to the customers to what your employees are doing. You cannot manage your business if you do not know what is happening inside the spider webs.
2. Market and sell your product and services.
Marketing is an extremely important part of the business because without it, then people will not know that your business exists. There should be a strong push towards marketing both in your company’s value and in their financial budget.
3. Access to capital
To start your business, you will need access to capital or money. He told the students that their best bet at finding capital would be through friends and family. He said that it’s very hard to get money from people that don’t love you and he still sometimes has troubles getting some capital which I find hard to believe.
4. Using technology and social media
He has been successful because he has embraced technology in a way to make his company profitable. Sam knows why technology is important and the business advantage that it can bring his companies, that is why he stresses its use.
At the end of the day, business is all about relationships and that is the ultimate goal that every entrepreneur should strive to make. Relations and networks with your employees, customers, suppliers, manufacturers, friends, family, and any other person or entity that you come in contact with. You never know what you can do for them or what they can do for you. So build those relationships and nurture them because they will truly help make you successful.
I’m glad I was able to attend the event because it was great hearing all those speakers, especially Sam Brooks.